The government’s current spending trends “will destroy the country from within,” said the co-chairmen of Obama’s national commission on debt.
Commission chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson spoke Sunday at the annual National Governor’s Association meeting in Boston, Mass., reported the Washington Post.
Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security programs annually consume all federal revenue, according to the chairmen. All discretionary spending funds for year-to-year budgeting and expenses are used up on the three programs, forcing the government to borrow money to cover the rest of the government’s expenses.
“The rest of the federal government, including fighting two wars, homeland security, education, art, culture, you name it, veterans, the whole rest of the discretionary budget, is being financed by China and other countries,” said Simpson.
By 2020 the United States will be spending $2 trillion on just the interest of the national debt, said Bowles, if the United States makes no changes.
“We can’t grow our way out of this,” said Bowles, reported the Washington Post. “We could have decades of double-digit growth and not grow our way out of this enormous debt problem. We can’t tax our way out. … The reality is we’ve got to do exactly what you all do every day as governors. We’ve got to cut spending or increase revenues or do some combination of that.”
Bowles, who was White House chief of staff under Clinton, worked successfully in 1997 with Republicans on a bill to balance the budget.
The bill resulted in surpluses in the following four years. Republican and former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, as the Senate’s GOP whip in 1990, helped gather support for a budget bill that raised taxes.
The two chairmen lead the 18-member bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
Bowles noted the challenge is not so much in knowing what to do, but in garnering the political will to face the consequences of doing so.
“What we do is not so hard to figure out; it’s the political consequences of doing it that makes it really tough,” he said.